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Billy’s Bald Spot and beyond 

May 25, 2019
By SPENCER MORRISSEY - Outdoors Columnist (adkpeaksurvey@gmail.com) , Lake Placid News

I've been flirting with this hike for a while now, starting way back in the summer of 2014 when I was adventuring in the area over near Razorback Pond. We found the private trail at that time, but we were still a bit unsure if it was truly open to the public.

Over the winter I did some research on the trail and found out it is open to the public, according to the Adirondack Mountain Club's West-Central Region edition of their trail guides. Of course, it then took me a couple more years to head back.

Billy's Bald Spot was named after Billy Dutton, an organ builder who owned an island on Big Moose Lake, where he entertained guides, patrons and musicians alike. This bald, rocky crest lies above the western part of the lake and was a favorite location of Billy's, so the name came to be and it just stuck.

Article Photos

This trail sign on the way to Billy’s Bald Spot reads, “Billy’s Squash.”
(Provided photo — Spencer Morrissey)

Many visitors came from faraway to hike the trail to the bald spot, and even today people travel out of their way to go there. I mean look at me, it took me nearly two hours to get there.

It is unclear if the current trail follows the old route up to the view, but it is clear that it is a worthy destination. While the views are surely a bit grown in since Billy saw them, it still offers a great retreat.

The trail is a bit tough to find. You'll need a keen eye to see the trailhead sign on the faded boards which reads, "Billy's Squash." There isn't much room for parking, but just a bit farther up the road we squeezed onto the shoulder.

It was a cold morning this day, with heavy dew on the trees and the clouds still covering the warming rays of the sun, but it wouldn't be long before we stripped off the coat layer.

Climbing steeply up the narrow trail, we followed the arrows that switchbacked us up onto the ridge area. It wasn't long - only about a half mile - before we came to Billy's Bald Spot.

Resting on the rocky crest was a lean-to and from there it was a spectacular view of a late sunrise over Big Moose Lake. The lake appeared very close and we could clearly see the island I suspected to be once owned by Mr. Dutton himself.

Then it was off to Squash Pond, located roughly another half-mile away, along a much more obscure and grown-over trail. From the lean-to, the trail, which was so nicely marked and maintained to this point, was all but apparent during the going stages of this walk.

We took the hike slow, looked ahead from trimmed branch to trimmed branch, from downed tree to obvious tread. It was a chore, but it seemed to work and was much better than pushing through the spruce.

The trail appeared to be a forgotten route, but its footprint was still noticeable enough to follow. We just had to be patient. No more than a couple feet wide, it meandered through the open forest and crested right near the highest point of Billy's Bald Spot Mountain, which for all intents and purposes is wooded.

We descended slightly as we dropped off the "peak," and the ever-so-hard-to-follow trail led us Squash Pond which is a small, quaint backcountry body of water with resident beavers, which is pretty much expected for most ponds in the Park. At the pond is where the state boundary line becomes more than obvious with its heavily yellow blazed layout. We used this to access Brown's Rock and assure that we stayed on state land and to not impose upon the private land.

We ventured a bit farther since the day was young and we felt a bit more bodily punishment was in order. I mean, we did drive all this way and to go home with no scarring - physical or mental - just didn't seem right. We checked out the map and thought about Brown's Rock way off in the distance, but changed our minds to a simple bushwhack over to Pocket Ponds.

From Squash Pond, we had a bit of trouble fighting the dense spruce growth as the state land boundary line led us right through the heart of it. Not being brushed out like many boundary lines are, this was very slow going.

Where dense spruce was not, a tangle of chin hobble took over and to this day I am unsure which I hate more. It wasn't long before we bailed on following the state boundary line and crossed the valley to a higher ridge.

Heading west a bit farther into state territory, we crossed a wetland of sedge, still crispy from their long hibernation. From here, we had a nice view down toward Squash Pond, another backcountry gem whose access is blocked by its seclusion. Its hidden value gave us the need to visit it, so we made our way through the rocky terrain to the southeast shore, where its true beauty was accented by the sun's rays.

The day drew to a close and our minds focused on the return traverse through the dense spruce and fir that protected the shore of Squash Pond. For some odd reason, it didn't seem as challenging on the return flight. Amazing how memories fade the existence of misery.

 
 

 

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